Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Plasma Plants Vaporize Trash While Creating Energy

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the Mr.-Fusion dept.

Earth 618

Jason Sahler writes "Recently St. Lucie County in Florida announced that it has teamed up with Geoplasma to develop the United States' first plasma gasification plant. The plant will use super-hot 10,000 degree Fahrenheit plasma to effectively vaporize 1,500 tons of trash each day, which in turn spins turbines to generate 60MW of electricity — enough to power 50,000 homes!"

cancel ×

618 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Slow down... (3, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743519)

I am sure this will be deadly for some marine brine shrimp, or something, and will be regulated away. All sensible plans are...

Re:Slow down... (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743615)

Yes, and what if the plasma leaks through the magnetic fields and consume more and more matter. We're doomed!!

Conservation of energy (5, Insightful)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743709)

This process will NOT "create" energy. In fact, I doubt it will have any more efficiency than the current conventional methods of turning trash into useful components. Keep in mind that vaporization of any solids from room temperature it going to take a massive amount of energy. Spinning turbines with the gasses until it condenses is an obvious step to take, but there is a lot of legislation that can be made to supplant the need for more technology. Just take a look at Germany. You can get a hefty fine for putting a can in the bio-degradable receptacle, but those guys have one helluva disposal system.

Re:Conservation of energy (2, Informative)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743983)

This process will NOT "create" energy.

seriously. at best this sounds like a marginally novel take on cogeneration [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Conservation of energy (5, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744017)

This process will NOT "create" energy.

See, this is my problem with you people who put all your faith and belief behind "science", it just leads to pessimistic attitudes. I mean sure, I know it's unlikely that this system would be the exception to conservation of energy or any other principle of physics, but there's always a possibility that maybe, just maybe, plasma garbage vaporizing is where physics breaks down. So, if you want, I'll let you live in your miserable world where you're always right and nothing exciting ever happens. All I ask is that you just don't disturb me in my world, a world of imagination and possibilities, a world where anything can happen, a world where flying cars, jetpacks and sophisticated sex robots are just around the corner and yes, a world where garbage vaporizes can run amok, producing more energy than is put into them thereby destroying the universe. Screw your science, that's the world I want to live in.

Re:Conservation of energy (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744117)

Are you saying there's no energy in garbage? I have a box of matches here that says you're wrong.

The theory behind it is this: If you can take the garbage molecules apart and put them back together in a lower energy configuration then you get to keep the profit.

Re:Slow down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25744031)

If it's actually deadly to the environment, in what way is it "sensible"?

Re:Slow down... (1)

fellip_nectar (777092) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744137)

They're called 'Sea People', you insensitive clod!

Environmental impact? (5, Interesting)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743523)

Most of what we produce, most 'trash' is going to be hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. So I have to wonder, is this 'burning' it, or is it going to be producing diatomic hydrogen and oxygen? Does anyone have any experience with plasma gasification that could explain why this wouldn't produce unwanted byproducts from the gaseous components cooling down?

Re:Environmental impact? (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743551)

I don't know much about it but most our trash is carbon. I'd be afraid to live by it for sure.

Re:Environmental impact? (1)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743597)

or is it going to be producing diatomic hydrogen and oxygen

Yikes! Water as a byproduct as well? Sounds perfect

Re:Environmental impact? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744129)

Even better, hydrogen plus oxygen equals fuel cell food.

Re:Environmental impact? (5, Funny)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743625)

Hey, as long as it's not Carbon. Because we all know that Carbon is bad. Oxygen is good. Hydrogen, however explosive it might be, is still good because we can mix Oxygen and Hydrogen to make water, which we need. So as long as we don't have Carbon... because Carbon is damn evil. Die Carbon you element of satan! (I think I overshot my moderation target)

Re:Environmental impact? (3, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744093)

Oxygen is good.

Oxygen was invented by Shampoo.

Re:Environmental impact? (2, Funny)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744139)

I think you're having me on because it sounds like a sham and I'm not buying your lies.

Re:Environmental impact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743729)

This won't produce unwanted byproducts because they'll define every byproduct as 'wanted'.

Re:Environmental impact? (5, Interesting)

evilad (87480) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743749)

You got it. Supposedly at those temperatures, no molecule complex enough to be harmful will survive.

Of course, that doesn't much help with any metals that happen to get vaporized in there with it... but everyone needs a little more zinc in their diet anyhow.

Re:Environmental impact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25744073)

Aren't there plenty of simple molecules and elements that are toxic, not just metals? We should focus on reuse and recycling, not vaporization.

Re:Environmental impact? (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743901)

most 'trash' is going to be hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen.

Don't forget the Nitrogen.

Conventional incinerators tend to create nitrates as a byproduct. Hopefully this extremely high temperature will avoid that problem.

-jcr

Re:Environmental impact? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743985)

100000F does not convert nitrogen into anything else....

the metals thing has me concerned too.. wtf are they going to do to catch all those ions?

I don't trust this idea. But am willing to be reasoned to feel better about it.

So.. (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743533)

How much energy is used in generating that 10,000 degree plasma, hmm? Less than what it'll output by incinerating trash? I'd like to see that.

Re:So.. (5, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743589)

How much energy is used in generating that 10,000 degree plasma, hmm? Less than what it'll output by incinerating trash? I'd like to see that.

It's apparently self sustaining [tech-faq.com] .

Re:So.. (-1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743743)

FTA:

It is self-sustaining after the initial electrical charge is used

Translation: not self-sustaining

Re:So.. (5, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743771)

Self-sustaining != Self-starting
It is self sustaining in the way your car's electrical system is: It provides enough juice to start the engine, which recharges your battery and runs your radio/lights/cigarette lighter.

Re:So.. (4, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743933)

exactly. it's unlikely that the initial electric charge will require more energy than is produced by the 1500 tons of garbage it burns each day (and presumably the plant stays on for more than a day at a time).

though i think a diesel engine is perhaps a better analogy since normal gas ICEs need an electrically-generated spark for each cycle, whereas a diesel engine uses compression-ignition thus only requires electricity for the initial compression stroke, after which point the engine is self-sustaining. so in this case the trash being vaporized is like the diesel fuel which is capable of sustaining the reaction on its own once the process is started.

in any case, this sounds like a great way to kill two birds with one stone. so long as the plasma plant doesn't generate any toxic waste or cause heat pollution it'd be a great way to get energy in practically any environment. now we just need to get more plug-in electrics on the road so that our transportation infrastructure can take advantage of cool sustainable technologies like this.

Your High School Physics Teacher Called (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743811)

Because perpetual motion machines are real, right?

What is the EFFICIENCY of this plant? THAT is what really matters.

Even after selling the amazing "free" electricity, how much does it cost to damn near nuke a ton of garbage? Also what about many of the heavy trace elements present in garbage (or, like, everything) what do they do with the several tons of poisons (our pals lead and arsenic for example) that come from processing so much trash "into base elements", eh?

At least when you shove it into the sun, it generally doesn't come back or make a dent on the ratios already in there. Nuking trash sounds nice on paper, but the real world doesn't just let you "destroy" things for free. I'd be nice to have an antimatter collider to get rid of our pesky trash and get "free" gamma rays for our powerplant of the future, but go look up how much it costs to make a nanogram of the stuff. In the same vein, heating up 1500 tons to 10k isn't free, or cheap: energy comes from somewhere.

Re:Your High School Physics Teacher Called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743875)

Well it's almost free, when you heat something up to 10000 F, you can then run the hot stuff into a heat engine to recover up to 95% of the energy you put in.

Re:Your High School Physics Teacher Called (5, Insightful)

tibman (623933) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743937)

I think you're seeing this from the wrong angle. The trash is "fuel" for the turbine. Think along the lines of coal burning power plants. The coal isn't free, it's a resource that is used to create electricity. I don't see how burning trash would be that different?

    The article is offline right now.. so i'm really just guessing here. But the purpose of the plant isn't just another powerplant, it's a trash removal plant as well.

Re:Your High School Physics Teacher Called (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744087)

Adding fuel to a fire != perpetual motion.

Sunshine (5, Interesting)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743535)

10,000 degrees fahrenheit is around 5,600 degrees celcius, which is approximately the surface temperature of the sun.

If ever the whatcouldpossiblygowrong tag were appropriate...

Re:Sunshine (5, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743601)

What could possibly go wrong? I dunno, lots of things. The whole place could catch on fire. Or someone could be electrocuted by equipment on site. Or someone has an accident on a ladder and falls and hurts himself. Or gets in a car crash on the way to work. (That's probably the most dangerous risk right there!)

What, you wanted something exotic? 5,600 degrees C is weak. A lightning bolt can hit 30,000 Kelvin. Somehow the Earth escapes destruction though!

Re:Sunshine (3, Funny)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743841)

The man whose job it is to monitor the plasma (using 4 mechanical arms powered by an AI) could be struck by a solar flare when the machine goes out of control?

Re:Sunshine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25744045)

True. If you had a video of the worse case scenario happening, I might not even watch it. Can it really be better than the footage of the propane factory exploding? That was pretty cool. Something to really be feared and respected.

Re:Sunshine (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743621)

No, not really.

In fact it is actually rather stupid to use the tag because of that part of the process.

Re:Sunshine (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743803)

Why is the sun's surface temperature held up as some standard of "hot?" The coronosphere is about 1 million C (or Kelvin, by that point they're basically the same). The core of the sun is ~15 million C. 5600 C is pretty cold.

Re:Sunshine (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744069)

You people always trot out "What could possibly go wrong" as a reason to not do something, well I say you're pussies. I want to know what can go wrong, in fact, the greater possibility for something to go wrong, the more interested I am in them doing it. If it works like they think it will, great, another new source for energy and waste disposal. If things go horribly wrong, like you naysayers think, that's almost as good -- a spectacular failure is a beautiful thing, especially when accompanied by a huge explosion. I say bring it on.

Summary, pt. 2 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743541)

Great summary, let's just forget the important part:

No word yet on the cost-effectiveness of maintaining such plants (all that plasma gas and filtration must be expensive), but if Geoplasma is able to make the process more efficient they could simultaneously solve our landfill problems while generating a significant amount of energy.

doesn't that make the whole "generates 60MW" claim rather misleading? There's no net generation out of this system.

Re:Summary, pt. 2 (0)

Inominate (412637) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743873)

Generating 60MW is easy. Converting it into electricity is the hard part.

No methane, but CO2? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743573)

Ok, it removes the methane problems of landfill, but where does that carbon go?

Re:No methane, but CO2? (2, Funny)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743865)

Exactly! What we need to do is trap the carbon it makes and somehow dispose of it. Perhaps in some sort of landfill system.

Nice job. (2, Insightful)

Patchw0rk F0g (663145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743583)

At the risk of sounding like an American [slashdot.org] again, nice job on that one. I wish we up here in the Great White North could get on board with evidence of this kind of forward-thinking stuff. (BTW, Anonymous Coward: not all comments are from the U.S. There are plenty of people in the world that have the ability to suss out timely comments on a keyboard. Friggin' dolt.)

At the same time, I'm still pushing on One Million Acts of Green, [onemillion...fgreen.com] as it's a great idea... one that I wish included fusion burning!

Hmmm... or will it, in the near future? ;-)

Plasma plants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743587)

Does it mean we are going to have plasma farms? Personally, I want to have a plasma garden.

jeez! - - - finally! (0, Redundant)

Emesee (1155401) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743591)

yai, though. :)

seems a bit stingy (4, Insightful)

Yurka (468420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743599)

1.2 kW per household? A hair dryer eats more than this.

You keep your dryers on 24/7? (4, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743669)

Do not confuse power and energy.

Re:seems a bit stingy (5, Funny)

Warhawke (1312723) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743799)

Am I the only person who upon reading the title had the sudden mental image of flora with glowing plasma leaves that devour trash like venus fly-traps devour flies? Whew, I need to lay off the midnight sushi...

Re:seems a bit stingy (1)

mutende (13564) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743947)

Am I the only person who upon reading the title had the sudden mental image of flora with glowing plasma leaves that devour trash like venus fly-traps devour flies?

You were not alone... ;)

Re:seems a bit stingy (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744029)

Now THAT would deserve the whatcouldpossiblygowrong tag.

Technically true... (5, Informative)

dj245 (732906) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743839)

The standard conversion is actually closer to 1MW per 1000 homes (1kW per home) on average. When you're running the drier or the electric stove, sure it's a lot more. But if you're just watching TV with a few lights on it is probably closer to a 400W load. The big problem happens around 4:45PM. Businesses are still open, but people have gone home and turned all the lights on. So the load usually peaks around that time. Obviously the grid has more capacity than 1kW per home, but on average this is about the average usage. What does your monthly bill say? If it is around 650-800 kW-hr then you only use about 1kW on average. (I have worked for a large utility and now work for a turbine manufacturer)

Re:Technically true... (1)

fucket (1256188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743935)

If the businesses are still open, why did the people go home? Shouldn't they still be at work?

Re:seems a bit stingy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743939)

1.21 Jigawatt!
88 mph, here I come.

Re:seems a bit stingy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25744099)

Check your power bill, you're probably not using much more than 1.2 kW average continuous power anyway. That works out to 864 kW-hours per month, or over $100 per month in power if you live in, say, California, New York state, or Texas.

Energy input vs. output (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743609)

How much energy is required to run this process, and how much would come out of it? The statement about "generates enough electricity to power 50,000 homes" sounds good, but it seems like it's leaving out another important side of the equation.

"While Creating Energy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743629)

"While Creating Energy" WOW! Sign me up for one of these! Possibly they could throw in a zero point drive autographed by Ponds and Fleishman? "The total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant and cannot be created," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy [wikipedia.org]

Re:"While Creating Energy" (2, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743763)

While I'm skeptical that this is net-energy-positive, it isn't a closed system. The trash represents an additional energy source. In fact, I think it's fair to say that if this system doesn't produce more electricity than it uses, it's a monumental waste of waste-energy. This makes sense only if they can produce more electricity (after subtracting electricity input) than a simple steam plant could from the same trash input. It really isn't all that helpful to spend more energy to produce less energy.

Re:"While Creating Energy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743843)

Yep, maybe buring the trash and extracting methane gas from it is more efficient.... Then use the methane as fuel for energy, home heating, ect...

Re:"While Creating Energy" (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744039)

Even if it doesn't generate more power than goes into it, just the high temp from the plasma is better than a simple burn of the trash, as more toxic molecules are broken down into their base components.

Re:"While Creating Energy" (4, Insightful)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743817)

I have some doubts about it producing more energy than it uses, but it could because it is not an isolated system - you keep adding trash

Re:"While Creating Energy" (1)

louiswins (1017272) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743849)

Oh yeah, wikipedia, what a reputable source. I'm not giving up on my Perpetual Motion Machine until there's proof!

What was that about a zero point drive though? It sounds intriguing... Perhaps it may have application in my own design...

racial slur - nope, a racial bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743637)

Ok, who else read the header as:

Plasma Plants Vaporize White Trash

Port St. Lucie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743653)

This is certainly a town that needs to do something about the trash. Anyone who's ever taken Interstate 95 down to Miami knows that Florida's 4th highest mountain, just behind the Space Mountain ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, is the mountain of trash in St. Lucie country right along the interstate. It's more than a mountain, it's a mountain range. The smell is horrible, and most of the people who emigrate out of Port St. Lucie have extra growths and such.

I don't know if vaporizing the trash for the populace to inhale is such a good idea, but it's nice to know they're doing something with the trash rather than just collecting it.

I'd hate to be the guy who shovels it.

Plasma Waste Disposal (2, Informative)

Pikiwedia.net (1392595) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743659)

This page explanis the technology:
plasmawastedisposal.com [plasmawastedisposal.com]

Recently? (3, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743663)

Recently St. Lucie County in Florida announced that it has teamed up with Geoplasma to develop the United States' first plasma gasification plant.

Yes, they recently announced that... Just a few couple after the first slashdot story, where they announced it:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/hardware/06/09/10/0026243.shtml [slashdot.org]

The Doc is Back! (5, Funny)

Narmacil (1189367) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743667)

FINALLY! The Mr. Fusion is only a few years away!
No longer will I need Plutonium to generate the 3.3 Jigawatts nessecary to power my Flux Capacitor.

Re:The Doc is Back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743735)

Thats one-point-twenty one gigawatts ... but nice try rookie

Re:The Doc is Back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743883)

He must be using a dual core Flux Capacitor

Re:The Doc is Back! (1)

Narmacil (1189367) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743929)

right, well my time machine only needs to hit about 40 to go back to the future, so the increase in power makes up for the 48 mph

Re:The Doc is Back! (1)

SwabTheDeck (1030520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743877)

Well, DUH. We already knew we'd have it by 2015.

Re:The Doc is Back! (0)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743953)

No longer will I need Plutonium to generate the 3.3 Jigawatts nessecary to power my Flux Capacitor.

It's 1.21 Gigawatts. Boo.

Artificial limits on power output (5, Interesting)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743677)

From working with a garbage to energy plant in Virginia, they had the ability to generate much more then the 80MW (from memory) they were generating. They had to impose the limit or they would qualify as a utility under the state guidelines, and be subject to regulation. Since the plant was privately owned, and wanted run themselves, they had to let a lot of the power go as heat.

They would regulate it some by the rate at which the garbage went in, but when it starts backing up, you have no choice but to burn it.

Re:Artificial limits on power output (3, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743745)

Too bad they couldn't have had a water tap run to their place and use the excess energy to make hydrogen through electrolysis. And than sell said hydrogen. I mean, if it's free energy...

Re:Artificial limits on power output (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743795)

God I bet that stunk.

Re:Artificial limits on power output (2, Interesting)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743879)

I know people think of these plants as incinerators, and in some cases they might be, but this one was some nice tech. Actually, there was no smell at all, no smoke, and very low particulate emissions.

The tech was from a German company, very high temp burn, not quite like this plasma, but very hot and controlled. It was self-sustaining once it got going, and managed to get rid of the garbage from a pretty large region. I think something like 2000 trash trucks dumped their loads there per day.

Re:Artificial limits on power output (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25744171)

And certainly still does !

Re:Artificial limits on power output (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25744065)

"they had to let a lot of the power go as heat"

What they do in Vienna (Austria, not Virginia) is transport the excess heat to homes for household heating and hot water.

There really is a lot you can do with burning trash.

Vaporware technology (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743703)

Their web site [geoplasma.com] just screams "vaporware". In fact, the useful-scale project has been cancelled [tcpalm.com] , and only a small "demonstration plant" will be built.

The real questions about this are 1) do they really get out more energy than they put in, and 2) how much processing of the exhaust gases is required? Westinghoue Plasma Corporation [westinghouse-plasma.com] (which, sadly, has little to do with Westinghouse) claims that 1000 tonnes (metric?) of solid waste produces the energy equivalent of 1 (one) barrel of oil. So this isn't a big energy producer. Ordinary waste-to-energy plants do better than that, but don't burn as clean as a plasma arc.

The other problem is what comes out. Organic compounds are literally blasted apart into atoms at those temperatures, so it deals with biowaste just fine. CO2 comes out, of course. NOx, maybe. Everything heavier (metals, etc.) is supposed to come out as a "molten slag" suitable for cement aggregate. Not sure what the cement industry thinks of this. They're usually quite picky about what's allowed in cement aggregate [cement.org] . Some contaminants interfere with the chemistry of concrete curing and make bad concrete. It might be good for filling in swamps and such.

Re:Vaporware technology (1)

Tim_UWA (1015591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743957)

Their web site just screams "vaporware".

Pun not intended?

Re:Vaporware technology (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743961)

At least they aren't claiming to separate the traces to sell by mass spectrometry.

Re:Vaporware technology (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743963)

Their web site just screams "vaporware". In fact, the useful-scale project has been cancelled, and only a small "demonstration plant" will be built.

To respond to these two points.
1. This is an established technology, even though it hasn't been commercial for all that long.

2. A lot of projects are being cancelled as collateral damage from the mortgage meltown.

To respond to the rest of your post:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/plasma-converter.htm/printable [howstuffworks.com]

as long as the bleading hearts don't do the same (2, Informative)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743723)

A high temperature incinerator was proposed for Victoria, Australia. The "who will think of the children" shot it down and we still have landfill. Here is a link: http://homepage.mac.com/herinst/sbeder/incinerator2.html [mac.com]

also google for "high temperature incinerator" +victoria

Re:as long as the bleading hearts don't do the sam (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744121)

It's a step in the wrong direction. It doesn't solve landfill, just shifts the dumping ground. We need to eliminate waste constructively, through increasing efficiency, reuse and recycling, advancing material science and stopping intractable waste at the source.

Did anyone else read it as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743761)

Plsama Plants (the living kind) vaporize trash while creating energy.
Now stop and think about that, that's exactly what I felt like the first time I read it :D

Re:Did anyone else read it as... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743789)

I did. Very confusing for a few moments.

Reading and visualizing (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743765)

Still asleep here, so my visualizing of this was:

"Plasma " ok that's the hot stuff

" plants " O, the beautiful trees, the nature... hmm, wait a second. Plasma trees? plasma grass?! What the...

" Vaporize trash " Dear freaking gawd! trash vaposizing red hot trees?!? Scorching grassy plains to vaporise trash on?

" While creating energy " They are self sustaining?! It's the end of the world! We're all gonna diiie!

Re:Reading and visualizing (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743991)

If I still had my mod points I'd give you that extra +1 on funny.

BTTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25743769)

Still waiting for Mr. Fusion and my flux capacitor, but this is a step in the right direction.

Could work. (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743829)

It seams reasonable that a technique like this could get net energy out, since it's essentially a fancy trash burner. There's plenty of energy in trash to extract.

The slag could be interesting, though. It will few full of evilness and heavy metals. It probably won't be worse than landfilling since the evilness would otherwise be dumped in the same quantities. I'd be suprised if it was useful for construction. I'd expect water based leaching etc to erode the internal structure of it pretty quickly to a point wherre it's a porus, crumbly rock. I may be wrong about that, though.

Also, it might be easier to refine the slag, since a lot of the annoying bulk waste has been removed.

Re:Could work. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743915)

It might even be possible to separate out the vaporized metals centrifugally.

-jcr

The ash is key (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743993)

I don't know what they do with the slag. It's not an easy problem. The ash, however, is usually very plentiful (I'm talking mountains of ash here). If it is relatively "clean" (no heavy metals) it gets spread on farmland for the phosphate content. In many cases they mix it with concrete or asphalt as a filler. It has to be of a certain type for this though; if the ash isn't right the concrete/asphalt will crumble. Also, a lot of this is subject to the rules of the state/local government. So things that are fine in some states are strictly forbidden in others (with very steep fines). I once worked for a plant that was fined over $200,000 for not covering their ash pile with a tarp/building. But in other states they just spread it onto farmland.

Am I the only one... (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743885)

Who read the plants in the title as being large green things with leaves etc ;)

I really need to ensure that prior to reading anything on /. I consume atleast 1, preferably, 2 large strong coffees.

supertoxins? (1, Informative)

Micklat (986895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743909)

Burning garbage creates highly toxic materials, like dioxin. So does gasifying the garbage, apparently, according to this position paper [scribd.com] . The article doesn't address this issue.
There is a reasoned and informative opposition [floridalcv.org] to this plant. By ignoring this opposition, the featured article reads like a PR piece.

Re:supertoxins? (4, Informative)

orzetto (545509) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744113)

Burning garbage creates highly toxic materials, like dioxin.

You are right, and I think that's one of the reasons they are proposing plasma (look it up... [wikipedia.org] ). In that state of matter, all molecules break up, including dioxin and other poisonous compounds. However, what happens when you cool down the exhaust gases will depend a lot on the construction, so you might still get dioxin (or something worse than that); I suppose this is fairly implementation-dependent. Also, I am not so sure about what happens to particulate: does the cooling process create more of it, or does the plasma state break it down?

A plant that vaporizes things? (2, Interesting)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743921)

Isn't that a Slaver Sunflower?

The big question is (2, Interesting)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25743975)

Does this mean that I will be paid for my garbage, rather than me paying to have it removed? If I have to pay to have my trash removed and then pay to have electricity, I'm calling foul.

And yet (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744003)

still not enough to power my DeLorean's time circuits.

Somethings not right. (1)

DivKnob (1406345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744015)

Did I read right? It said that it was more expensive than landfills, thats why it hasn't been tried before. I thought it was self sustaining. Produced more than it used. Hmm, how could free or profitable be more expensive than a land fill?

I'd rather have 10 of these than one coal plant (3, Insightful)

Werthless5 (1116649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744047)

Yeah, the potential for exhuming heavy metals and toxins is high if you don't regulate a plant like this (which it would be). However, we love our coal power plants, and they're absolutely disgusting. It's pathetic that we're still building new ones, yet we haven't built a new power plant in over 20 years (but this is supposed to change by 2010).

Furthermore, landfill trash isn't exactly a valuable resource. I'd much rather pay a little extra and burn away trash then burn coal. Plants like this one (they don't have to use plasma) would be great for helping us transition toward more nuclear and geothermal/wind/solar power.

Combustion vs. recycling (2, Interesting)

orzetto (545509) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744049)

Has anyone done the math and compared the economic value of 60MW of electricity versus the value of the equivalent trash? I suppose you should account for sorting and recycling costs on one side, and for operating costs, plant capital costs and maintenance on both. Unfortunately I have no data on this so I cannot really argue for one alternative or the other.

A stupid idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25744075)

Since when is vaporizing valuable resources just to generate some heat and in turn electricity a good thing?

Did I miss a breakthrough in Chemistry? Can mankind now create complex elements at will?

Products should be designed in a way and humans should behave in a way that we don't produce all that waste in the first place.

Electricity isn't our problem. We can use the sun for that.

nt (2, Funny)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744143)

This will be a gas...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?